The Conservation Law Center, with attorney Jeff Hyman leading the litigation, represented environmental groups Alliance for the Great Lakes and Save the Dunes in a bid to protect the public’s right to use the Lake Michigan shore as public land.
On December 7th, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that Indiana's Lake Michigan shoreline is held in trust for the public up to the ordinary high-water mark. The opinion, setting an important precedent, recognizes the public trust in Indiana.
On September 8, CLC attorney Jeff Hyman will be defending the Public Trust with clients Save the Dunes and Alliance for the Great Lakes. The argument is open to the Public and begins 1:00 PM in the Supreme Court Courtroom (room 317) at the State Courthouse in Indianapolis. All are welcome to attend.
This July, La Porte County Judge Richard R. Stalbrink ruled that Indiana holds the state’s Lake Michigan shore in trust for public uses, including swimming, sunbathing, and other recreational activities. The decision, Gunderson v. State, No. 46D02-1401-PL-606 (LaPorte Super. Ct. 2 July 24, 2015) establishes that citizens’ rights extend beyond the water to an administratively established boundary on the shore, regardless of beach ownership.
The Center has been representing the Alliance for the Great Lakes and Save the Dunes in a lawsuit in which certain owners of lakeside property claim ownership of the beach of Lake Michigan right down to the water's edge. The trial court decided that it wasn't a proper forum to settle the ownership question, but affirmed our argument that regardless of ownership, any activity on the land in question must be consistent with the "public trust,"" a legal doctrine that is meant to protect the public's interest in the values of certain critical natural resources.
CLC is representing the Alliance for the Great Lakes and Save the Dunes in litigation over the application of the public trust and the boundary of the State of Indiana's ownership of the shore of Lake Michigan. The lawsuit began when certain owners of lakeside property sued the Town of Long Beach, claiming a town resolution interfered with their rights. The complaint asks the court to declare that there is no public right in the shore landward of the water's edge. CLC’s clients believe that the conservation interest in the lakeshore will be best served by defending the claim of public rights in the shoreland.